x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

AMD looks to make tablet chips

The US tech company wants to take market share from rival Intel

AMD had an 18.1 per cent market share for microchips used in PCs and servers, compared with Intel's 81.2 per cent share. Matthias Rietschel / AP Photo
AMD had an 18.1 per cent market share for microchips used in PCs and servers, compared with Intel's 81.2 per cent share. Matthias Rietschel / AP Photo

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) could build computer processors for tablet devices within two years, says a senior official with the US chip maker. Tablet devices have surged in popularity over the past year after the introduction of Apple's iPad and similar offerings from Amazon, Hewlett-Packard and Sony.

More than 4 million tablet devices are expected to be sold this year, a figure that will rise to 57 million by 2015, the technology consultancy ABI Research says. "We see [tablets] being a huge market but it's likely [to be] a couple of years away," said Nigel Dessau, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer for AMD. "If you look at the industry analyst numbers, Apple has done an incredible job with the iPad and we expect to see them continue to lead the majority of the market for a while. What we're looking at is when in the future it might make sense for us to intercept that with a product of our own."

But entering the tablet market will require a different strategy for AMD. The company makes chips using the "x86" standard commonly used to provide high computing power for desktops and laptops. Tablets and other mobile devices such as smartphones have chips that use the ARM design, a set of microchip blueprints developed by the company of the same name that offer high performance from limited battery power.

Analysts say it remains to be seen how competitive AMD's tablet offerings will be. "It makes sense that they're trying to get into the tablet space," said Daniel Berenbaum, a technology analyst at Auriga USA. "I would bet that there are already people out there trying to figure out how to put their processors into tablets." AMD recently introduced a line-up of processors called Vision that will provide potential customers with an idea of what computer to buy based on the level of computing power it can deliver for activities such as video streaming or editing images.

The accompanying marketing campaign comes at a time when AMD is looking to take on its main rival Intel. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect AMD's sales to rise 21 per cent this year to US$6.55 billion (Dh24.05bn). In the first quarter of this year, AMD had an 18.1 per cent share of the worldwide market for microchips used in most PCs and servers, compared with Intel's 81.2 per cent share, the market analyst company Mercury Research says.

Mr Dessau was in the UAE this week to attend strategy and planning discussions with the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), a specialist investment vehicle owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. ATIC holds a 73 per cent stake in the microchip maker Globalfoundries and AMD retains the remaining stake. ATIC hopes to buy out AMD's Globalfoundries stake but neither company has said when this might happen.

Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, also owns a stake of about 20 per cent in AMD. Mr Dessau declined to comment on recent reports that AMD was in discussions with Apple to replace Intel as the exclusive provider of chips in Apple computers. dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae